I have only gotten to the mid-way point on my English essay when the unthinkable happens.
The Internet shuts off again. The sixth. Bloody. Day. In a row.
And before I saved the document!
I let out a sudden shrieking sentence filled with swear words as I tap violently at the computer uselessly, knowing that all my hard work is gone with no hope of recovery. I could cry. Instead, I take a sharp breath through the nose and think: Ella, you are seventeen years old. Seventeen year olds do not throw temper tantrums. I repeat this sentence like a mantra, over and over again.
I nearly jump out of my seat when I hear a knock at the door. “Ella? Are you all right?” a child’s voice says. I sigh again before getting up and opening the door. “Oh, hey, Garth. What’s up?”
Garth shuffles his feet. “Um, Cynthia and I heard you screaming, and we were wondering if you were okay?” Oh great, first the internet goes out again, and now a ten year old heard me swearing like a sailor. Brilliant.
I force a smile in my face. “Uh, yeah, Garth, I’m okay. Just frustrated. How’s Cynthia?”
“Why don’t you ask her yourself?” I look up to see Cynthia standing in the hallway, a smirk on her face. Today she’s wearing a soft pink seater and has her long brown hair tied into a high ponytail. If it weren’t for the dark glasses she wears and her cane, you would never guess she was blind.
“Hey, Cyn!” I smile. Aside from Lea, Cynthia and Garth are the only two people I’ve managed to really talk to. I think it helps that the latter two are close to my age. Garth may only be ten, but he’s a good helper for Cynthia when her parents aren’t home.
She brushes a strand of hair from her face. “Do I look all right today?” she asks. Garth rolls his eyes. “For the last time, Cynthia! You look great! I should know, because I’m the one who did your hair!”
When I look at him curiously, he sputters, “I have two sisters. The youngest one asks for me to help her with her ponytails all the time. Guess I’ve gotten good at it,” he says.
I smile again. “No need to be ashamed, Garth.”
“Oh, Ella? I’ve heard about that boy who went to your school and recently passed away. Did you know him?” Cynthia asks softly, quietly. I know she means no harm, but it’s still an uncomfortable question.
I tug at my curls. “Um. Not well. We talked on occasion,” I say.
“It’s so sad what happened,” Cynthia murmurs.
“Uh, don’t you think it’s weird that the Internet has been going off so much lately? Mr. Black said it usually happens at least once a year, and no more than three times. This is the sixth day in a row,” I say, attempting to change the subject.
Cynthia nods. “It is strange.” She taps her cane against the wall. “Garth’s dad recently checked down in the basement and found that someone was tampering with the wires. Maybe they’re back at it, the jerks.”
I gasp. “Tampering with the wires? Why would they do that?” I ask.
This time, Garth speaks up. “Dunno. Probably just enjoys screwing with the Internet for kicks.”
I half heartedly check my phone, hoping the wi-fi is back up; I feel a pang of relief when I see two of the bars are up. “Okay, Wi-Fi seems to be back up. I need to get back to my homework. Nice chatting with you, Cynthia, Garth.” I wave at both of them before going back inside.
Suddenly, my phone begins to vibrate and I suppress a little shriek before checking the contact name. It’s only Sammy. I answer my phone and say, “Hey, Sammy. What’s up?”
“Ella! Oh my God, Ella! You won’t believe what I’ve discovered!”
I smirk. “Try me, Sammy. What’ve you found out?”
“It’s about Jack Barton.” My stomach twists nervously once she says his name. “I don’t think he committed suicide, Ella.”
“What?” I demand. “He cut his wrists with razors, Sammy. That sounds like suicide to me.”
“Hear me out! It’s weird, Ella. He was scared of sharp objects, but I also talked to some of his friends-”
“What!” I shout. “What are you thinking, Sammy? You’ll look like a creep. In fact, why the hell are you looking into his death anyway?”
“It was the razors. Like you said, Ella, they made no sense. He was scared of them. Heck, one of his friends, Lindy, even said that he hated shaving because he could nick himself. But while I was talking to them, I noticed that his behavior doesn’t fit with the suicidal.” She takes a breath before continuing. “He could’ve been murdered, Ella.”
It takes a moment for her words to sink in, but when they do, all I can do is laugh. “What?” I gasp. “Sammy, do you even hear yourself? This is crazy! That happens in books and movies, but not in real life. Did he have any enemies?”
“Was there a motive?”
“I don’t think so, but-”
“Sammy, you didn’t even know him that well.”
“I know, but it’s like Angela’s death. Same way, and no indications or hints.”
I roll my eyes. “So you’re saying you think there’s a killer out there?”
“I dunno anymore, Ella.”
I sigh as I sit down. “Sammy, you’re jumping to conclusions. Letting your imagination go insane. There isn’t a killer out there. It’s just mental illness. That’s all.”
She wavers before speaking. “I have a bad feeling, Ella. I don’t know why, I just do.”
“Sammy, everything is okay. This isn’t that sort of town. Now get some sleep; we’ll talk in the morning when we’re better rested, okay?”
“Talk to you later, Sammy.”
“Okay,” she says in a voice that reminds me of a pouting five year old. I chuckle as I end the call. Now I just need to get back to my homework, and get this talk of murderers and false suicides out of my brain.